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Room for improvement in workplace volunteering, new research finds

The experiences of people who give their time through employer-organised or employer-supported activities, known as employer-supporter volunteering (ESV), are positive but lag behind those who arrange their own volunteering, a new report from NCVO finds.

The research shows that 39% of ESV volunteers reported being 'very satisfied' against 56% of non-ESV volunteers. It suggests that focusing on the quality of the experience of workplace volunteers tends to be less of a priority for the organisations involved than it would be for other forms of volunteering.

All volunteering-involving organisations should be considering how they can give workplace volunteers a more positive experience, NCVO said.

While employers and charities and other organisations involving volunteers participating in ESV said they are motivated by making a difference, the research shows they also have other motivations. For charities and other volunteer-involving organisations ESV is often seen as a route to accessing additional funding and for employers it is a way to enhance productivity and reputation.

The mismatch of priorities and expectations from these differing motivations can create tensions and negative perceptions from the different groups. But where there is a focus on shared values and purpose, it can lead to a range of benefits for all involved.

The report, which looks further into data collected as part of NCVO's landmark Time Well Spent research, provides insight into how charities and other volunteer-involving organisations can avoid the pitfalls and provide the best experience for those who give their time through employer-supported volunteering programmes.

Karl Wilding, director of public policy and volunteering at NCVO, said:

A new generation of volunteers want to make a difference to the causes that they believe in, in their own time and in work time. Volunteering supported by employers is worth getting right, but that isn’t always what’s happening.

The message from our research is clear: employer-supported volunteering needs to start with why people want to volunteer, involve each of the different groups to work together in making the experience of getting involved a good one, and remember the reasons we are all doing this at the end of the day: to make a difference to the causes we all care about. 

Time Well Spent: Employer Supported Volunteering is the first of a series of research reports that take a closer look in to some of the key issues surrounding volunteer experience that were identified through the Time Well Spent research which was published in January 2019. The next research report will focus on volunteering and public services.

See the full report Time Well Spent: Employer Supported Volunteering here.

The full Time Well Spent research report can be downloaded here .

This research was conducted in partnership with the Corporate Volunteering Network, a peer network of charities and brokers involved in ESV.

This research is being launched during Volunteers' Week 2019. Volunteers' Week is an annual campaign led by NCVO in England, to celebrate and say thank you to volunteers who give their time for free for causes they care about. You can find out more about Volunteers' Week on the website.


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